Silos – part one

It’s important to set regular time aside to share and deal with problems and new ideas, Alun Rees says.

This is the first of two pieces on ‘silos’ and the problems that they cause in dentistry.

Firstly, I will look at the micro scale; in individual practices.

A silo is a structure that isolates its contents.

That may be for the storage of bulk materials like grain or silage.

It is also a place for storing and filing missiles.

In business it describes how groups become isolated by not sharing or communicating.

A lonely place

Dentistry can become a lonely place, even within a busy practice.

The focus of most clinicians is on the patient’s needs there and then.

In all practices, NHS or private, there are goals and targets to be achieved on a weekly or daily basis and these can take up most of our attention.

Unless regular slots for team communication are scheduled and kept, then it is easy for time to pass without the sharing of problems and solutions, new ideas and updates.

In many practices, team meetings are purely about top-down delivery with little opportunity for feedback.

For some new, and not so new, associates, the four walls of a surgery can turn into the dental version of cubicle life: ‘I felt less lonely when I worked in a call centre in my gap year’ said one to me recently.

It’s easy to believe that logging onto a Facebook group will act as a substitute for human contact.

The frequent hyperbole of online life where exaggerated extremes of experience are shared can leave you feeling even more isolated.

What are the solutions?

If you are a practice owner, ensure that meetings are frequent and inclusive, insist that all attend the morning (or daily) huddle, and that everyone contributes equally.

Unless people are heard, appreciated and supported, they will not give of their best and your dental business will suffer.

Read more from Alun Rees:

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